How To Respond To Google Ads Limiting The Search Terms Report

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On September 1st, Google announced that the search terms report within Google Ads will now only show search queries that have been searched by “a significant number of users”, in order to strengthen their protection around user data.

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.” – Google

The news has left several advertisers confused and concerned – but is this going to have a big impact? It all depends on what “significant” means, but advertisers will lose visibility into some of the queries they pay for.

Why Is Google Search Terms Report Important?

The search terms report is a feature within Google Ads that allows advertisers to see exactly which search terms triggered our ads to appear, with extra details on clicks and conversions.

As such, this report has always played a key role for digital marketers and PPC agencies in optimising  Google Ads campaigns. This data insight is mainly utilised to pinpoint new search terms to add to keyword lists, build negative keyword lists, and identify the best match type for each keyword. All of this helps to make sure we are allocating budget properly, and not wasting ad spend on low-profit keywords.

How Do We Combat Google Reducing Visibility In the Search Terms Report?

We will not have as much visibility on search queries moving forwards, and potentially we could be spending money on some irrelevant terms. However, this loss of data should not interfere with our best practices, as Google will continue to share data that will help us make the most meaningful optimisations in their account.

There are alternative solutions to overtake the Google Search Query update and assist us with potential keyword expansion or exclusion:

  • Download and save your historical search term results for data that is available.
  • Use the Bing Ads search term report to supplement your Google reports. Both advertising platform share similar search trends; from Bing’s search query report, you can find new keywords and negative keywords for Google too.
  • Include different keyword match types; see which ones perform best and pause underperformers. Be more cautious with broad/broad modifier terms.
  • Ensure you have an extensive negative keyword list to block anything irrelevant from campaign launch.
  • Try third party search tools, such as SEMRush and Ahrefs – however, their efficiency may vary as they use different algorithms to collect data.
  • Analyse searches that are happening directly on your website with site search reports.
  • Test some smart bidding strategies; Google is pushing automation more so testing something like target CPA is worthwhile to see whether placing your account in Google’s hands brings better results.

Although it may seem scary, we believe that following a thorough and precise approach, this update will not have a huge impact on advertisers. After all, it is not the first time Google has reduced the level of control advertisers can have over their campaigns. They started limiting visibility into the search terms that drive organic traffic to websites (the so-called “not provided” issue) back in 2011…

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